From Wharfedale Observer, February 22nd, 2018
Written by Jim Jack
OTLEY and Yeadon's MP is fighting for British basketball to be properly funded. Alex Sobel (Lab, Leeds North West) led a Parliamentary debate on the future of the sport in the UK last week.
That followed a decision by sports funding bodies to end the existing support for the elite-level game, due to the failure of national teams to gain medals in recent international competitions.
The British Basketball Federation has announced it will run out of money completely in April as a result.
Mr Sobel however, as Chair of the Al Party Parliamentary Group for Basketball, has insisted that funding should not solely be dependent on medal success.
He and the group are calling for:
*Sports funders to provide a short-term solution for the next three seasons so GB players can stay on the court
*A review, following the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, into elite sports funding which considers a wider set of criteria
*The Minister for Sport to intervene in UK Sport's decision and to carry out a review of potential funding for a three-on-three squad for Tokyo.
Mr Sobel said: "Teams like those in disadvantaged communities in Sheffield, Leeds, London and other urban centres aspire to play for, and want one day to play for, our national team.
"UK Sport recently announced £226 million for Olympic Eligible Sports until 2021 including £14.5 million for equestrian sports, £25.5 million for sailing and more than £6 million for modern pentathlon - a sport that requires a horse, a sword and a gun.
"None of these sports are within reach of the young people we see playing basketball - we’re funding elite sports for elites."
Among those supporting that position is John Grogan, Labour MP for Keighley and Ilkley.
He said: "The rules are the rules but sometimes a creative interpretation has to be made of those rules.
"We have to preserve our national team because it is the national teams that do inspire people to take up the game."